By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield
"Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of '76 did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor." Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum Address of 1838
As a fiery state senator from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln felt that the greatest threat to our liberty would come from within our own country. That in order to preserve it, its people must store up its attributes like treasures from heaven. And if that person chooses not to hold elections in the highest esteem, well, they would suffer the consequences.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Abraham Lincoln
Throughout the course of American history, why couldn’t God send a beam of light on that politician who He chose to lead the country, the men and women He chose for the Congress and Senate. But in a way—He did.
After the November 1860 election, seven states left the Union. Angered and hostile toward the election of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, the lower South seceded and incorporated the Confederate States of America. When Lincoln arrived in Washington, D.C., he had to sneak in the back door! The threats of war hung like a wet blanket over DC, smothering the hope from Lincoln’s lungs.
What did this sixteenth President of these United States do? In Lincoln’s Inauguration Address he turned the people’s attention toward the biblical principles foundational to the formation of this country.
“…In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it’…
“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely, they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln
In our twenty-first-century, I believe people would have preferred a more visual version of God’s hand—not the literary kind. Couldn’t God pave the way in a golden ray of sunburst colors climbing across the hills and byways, or parting the waters like He did for Moses, exclaiming, “This way.” That is not God’s way, not in the nineteenth century and not in the twenty-first century.
President Lincoln says, “There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite.”
Searching the Scriptures, seeking truth over lies, God does answer our prayers and especially those of thankfulness.
November 4, 2020, is in the corridors of the past. Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching. Let’s not forget that during the bitter days of the Civil War, Thanksgiving Day was declared a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.”
Why is it, amidst sacrifices and loss, people remember the blessing of our Almighty God? Does it take a catastrophe to bend our knees? When an agnostic or atheist cannot deny the hand of God, seeing the shadow of death hovering above their heads? With a grateful heart, Abraham Lincoln set hand to parchment and wrote this Proclamation of Thanksgiving on October 3, 1863:
“…blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”
Americans forget that all around us are the splendors of God’s blessings. Even though North and South fought a bloody civil war, Lincoln looked to the advancing pilgrimage of the western states.
Lincoln continues in his Proclamation of Thanksgiving Address, “…Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.”
Even though our omissions of obeying His Word, God works His sovereign will for America. President Lincoln doesn’t hesitate to give God His due:
“Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.”
Lincoln doesn’t ignore the truth. Americans had sinned against a sovereign and omnipotent God. So, what does Lincoln do? I can hear the words of Ecclesiastes 3:11, …To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven… Lincoln gives credit to God for a righteous outcome!
“They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
Some Americans felt there wasn’t anything to be thankful about. The Southerner whose home was burned to the ground. Northerner or Southerner, families lost a husband, father, or sweetheart. Lincoln didn’t dwell on the past—but the future.
“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of The United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Lincoln commands his fellow countryman to do their Christian duty regarding the fatherless, the orphan. Knowing to do so would grant the doer blessings from the hand of a Sovereign God.
“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.” Is this a God thing? The elections are always the first week of November and Thanksgiving, the last week of the month? A coincidence? Only God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities!
After a nail-biting, exhausting election, Thanksgiving Day appears, like a tourniquet to bind up our wounds. Americans gather with family and loved ones, to give thanks to our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, whom omnipotently directs the affairs of men and country—our possibilities are endless as the stars in the heavens!
“…They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy…” Abraham Lincoln
The Second Great Awakening has stirred her soul…
Rachael Rothburn is eager to leave her life of luxury in Boston to share the gospel with Native Americans in the west. The only problem is the missionary alliance won’t let her go unless she’s married. When Dr. Jonathan Wheaton, another missionary hopeful, learns about the restrictions, he is desperate to find a wife. He offers Rachael a marriage of convenience and she agrees. The pair sets off for Oregon to share Jesus with the natives, but in the process, they discover God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities.
“…one gripping, compelling read. Wilted Dandelions by Ms. Brakefield had me eagerly turning pages and sighing over the love story premise as well as taking comfort in the spiritual message…” ES
Catherine says, “My readers inspire my writing!”
Catherine is an award-winning author of the inspirational historical romances Wilted Dandelions and Destiny of Heart. Her popular Destiny series includes: Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny.
She has written Images of America; The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.
Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books, Baker Books, Revell, CrossRiver Media, and Bethany House Publishers.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), President of the Great Lakes Chapter (ACFW GLC). Catherine lives with her husband of 45 years, has two adult children, and four grandchildren.
See https://www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com for more information about her books.